File photo: UNICEF India National Ambassador Priyanka Chopra attends UNICEF’s 70th Anniversary Event at United Nations Headquarters, Dec. 12, 2016, in New York City. (Mike Coppola/Getty Images)
India was elected to the United Nations’ top human rights body on Friday for a period of three years beginning January 1, 2019, getting 188 votes in the Asia-Pacific category, the highest number of votes among all candidates, writes Yoshita Singh.
The 193-member UN General Assembly held elections here for new members to the UN Human Rights Council. The 18 new members were elected by absolute majority through a secret ballot. Countries needed a minimum of 97 votes to get elected to the Council.
India was vying for a seat in the Asia Pacific category. Along with India, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Fiji and Philippines had also staked a claim in the same regional group. Given that there were five nations vying for five seats in the Asia Pacific category, India’s election to the Council was all but certain.
Following the election, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin told PTI that India’s win with the highest number of votes reflects India’s standing in the international comity.”
He further tweeted “Voting for a Happy Outcome. Thanks to the support of all our friends @UN , India wins seat to Human Rights Council with highest votes among all candidates.”
In the Asia Pacific category, India got 188 votes followed by Fiji with 187 votes, Bangladesh 178, Bahrain and Philippines 165 each. India got the highest number of votes among all 18 countries in the five regional categories.
The new members will serve a term of three years beginning January 1, 2019. India had previously been elected to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council for the 2011-2014 and 2014-2017 term.
Its last tenure had ended on December 31, 2017 and in accordance with the rules, it was not eligible for immediate re-election since it had already served two consecutive terms.
Created by the Assembly in March 2006 as the principal United Nations body dealing with human rights, the Human Rights Council comprises 47 elected Member States.
On the basis of equitable geographical distribution, Council seats are allocated to the five regional groups as follows: African States, 13 seats; Asia Pacific States, 13 seats; Eastern European States, 6 seats; Latin American and Caribbean States, 8 seats; and Western European and other States, 7 seats.
The new members elected Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Eritrea, Somalia and Togo in the African States category, Bulgaria and Czech Republic in the Eastern European States group, Argentina, Bahamas and Uruguay in the Latin American and Caribbean States group and Austria, Denmark and Italy in the Western European and other States category.
Commenting on the elections, rights group Human Rights Watch said In ridiculous vote devoid of competition, UN General Assembly elected #Philippines, #Eritrea, #Bahrain & #Cameroon to be among new members of @UN#HumanRights Council in 2019-2021. Such votes make mockery of word election’.
It said Human Rights Council member states should seek to neutralise any attempts by its worst members to shield themselves and other serial rights abusers & keep doing good work on #Yemen, #Myanmar, #Syria, #Burundi & other crises.
Former President of Chile Michelle Bachelet assumed the role of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in September this year, succeeding Jordanian diplomat Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, who had in June this year released a first ever report on Kashmir that was rejected by India.